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Digital Transactions in the Irish Economy 2020

In 2020 41% of goods and services produced in the economy were transacted digitally

CSO statistical publication, , 11am
Frontier Series Output

CSO Frontier Series outputs may use new methods which are under development and/or data sources which may be incomplete, for example new administrative data sources. Particular care must be taken when interpreting the statistics in this release.
Learn more about CSO Frontier Series outputs.

Key Findings

  • In 2020, 22% of output in the economy was digitally ordered (€154bn). This comprised €21bn (3% of total) of goods and €133bn (19% of total) of services.

  • Some 94% of transactions in the Financial Services sector in 2020 were conducted digitally. These online transactions include the provision of insurance, pensions, fund management, and online banking.

  • Over 95% of transactions in the Information & Communication Technology (ICT) sector took place online. This sector includes computer programming, publishing, film and broadcasting or digital streaming services.

  • In the Distribution and Transport sector, 46% of products were digitally transacted, mostly composed of digital ordering. Examples of such transactions include hotel bookings, food delivery apps or airline tickets.

  • In 2020 only 10% of products in the Industry sector were transacted online.

  • Looking at digital products, 38% of output in the economy was comprised of digital products. These types of goods or services include items such as e-books or operating systems.

  • Comparing Ireland with the Netherlands, one of the few countries to produce comparable estimates, 22.6% of the value of output in the Dutch economy was digitally delivered in 2018 compared with 29% for Ireland in the same year.

Statistician's Comment

The Central Statistics Office (CSO) has today (25 November 2022) released Digital Transactions in the Irish Economy in 2020.

Commenting on the release, Yvonne Hayden, Statistician in the National Accounts Analysis and Globalisation division, said: " This Frontier publication by the CSO attemps to illustrate the level of goods and services produced in the economy that are digitally transacted, that is, digitally ordered and/or digitally delivered. 

This is the first time the CSO has produced this data and is among the first national statistical institutes in Europe to make estimates of the digital economy through the supply and use framework. The results are experimental at this stage. However, they demonstrate the impact digitalisation has had on the Irish economy.

The Digital Economy

In 2020, 41% of goods and services produced in the economy were transacted digitally. This can take the form of being digitally ordered, digitally delivered or both.

Two sectors dominated the digital transactions sphere in 2020: Financial Services (€41bn) and the Information & Communications Technology (ICT) sector (€150bn).

Only 10% of products in the Industry sector were digitally transacted. The low figure for this sector is explained by the fact that goods can be digitally ordered but not digitally delivered. For example, fuel can be ordered online but cannot be delivered digitally.

Value of Digital Products Produced in the Irish Economy

The publication also presents an estimate of the value of digital products produced in the economy.

In 2020, 22% of output in the economy was digitally ordered (€154bn). This comprised €21bn (3% of total) of goods and €133bn (19% of total) of services. This can take the form of transactions such as ordering fuel or materials online or booking hotel breaks or airline tickets through a website or through a platform.

Around 31% of products in the economy were delivered digitally. This is mainly due to the activities of the ICT sector, the Financial sector, and the Professional & Administrative sector. Examples of products that could be delivered digitally in these sectors include insurance, streaming services, cloud storage services, or consulting/legal services that can be conducted through Zoom or Microsoft Teams."

Digital Economy

The digital economy incorporates all economic activity reliant on, or significantly enhanced using digital inputs, including digital technologies, digital infrastructure, digital services, and data. It refers to all producers and consumers, including government, that are utilising these digital inputs in their economic activities.

This Frontier publication by the CSO aims to show goods and services produced in the economy that are digitally transacted, that is, digitally ordered and/or digitally delivered. The tables also show the value of digital products that are produced in the economy. This latter estimate is based on an international classification of digital goods and digital services.

A product need not be a digital product to be transacted digitally. For example, organic foods are not digital. If those foods are sold via a website, then they are transacted digitally.

Our approach makes use of CSO survey data where possible and is consistent with aggregates published in the National Accounts Supply TableOutput Method and Annual National Accounts. For industries where the CSO has not yet gathered information on the digital nature of the orders no estimates have been made. The estimates in the release reference the year 2020, with 2018 and 2019 tables included for completeness. All data related to this release can be found here: DITA01.

Tables and Graphs

X-axis labelProducts transacted digitally
Financial Activities094.4871361529486
Professional & Support Activities056.4894548856294
Distribution & Transport046.145645095046
Arts, Entertainment & Other Services042.4997139829911
Real Estate008.25066669733195
Health & Education006.18883660790362
Agriculture, Forestry & Forestry000.0553131833557481

Get the dataDITA01

Figure 1.1 shows the percentage of products within the individual sectors in 2020 that were digitally transacted. In the ICT and Financial services sector, over 90% of products were transacted digitally. Many of the outputs of these sectors are typically digitally delivered, for example software systems (apps) and online banking.

In the Distribution and Transport sector, 46% of products were digitally transacted, mainly explained by digital ordering. Examples of such transactions include hotel bookings, food delivery apps or airline tickets. In the Professional & Support Services sector, 56% of products were transacted digitally. This is largely a services-based sector with a lot of consulting services being digitally delivered through platforms like Zoom.

X-axis labelDigitally OrderedDigitally Delivered
Financial Activities0094.4871361529486
Professional & Support Activities022.1211872894639044.1304462664411
Arts , Entertainment & Other Services 017.8309130511809030.0219971376532
Health & Education0006.18883660790362
Real Estate008.250666697331950
Distribution & Transport046.0695834204542000.141036690268411
Agriculture, Forestry & Fishing0000.0553131833557481

Get the data :DITA01

Expressed as a percentage of total output in the sector, Figure 1.2 compares the proportion of output that is digitally ordered with the proportion that is digitally delivered for several sectors. As a result, this graph may also include transactions that are both digitally ordered and digitally delivered. The figure shows that over 50% of products in the ICT sector were digitally ordered, followed by Distribution and Transport at 46% and Professional & Support Activities at 22%. When this is compared to the digitally delivered, 94% of products in the Financial sector were digitally delivered, followed by ICT at 91%. Like products that are digitally ordered, ICT products account for one of the largest number of products that were also digitally delivered. Less than 10% of products in Industry were digitally ordered, with almost none being digitally delivered. This is because the sector is dominated by goods, which can be ordered digitally through websites but can almost never be digitally delivered.